Thailand – Phuket Island

 

Our travels after Northern Thailand were mostly to beach resorts and most posts will be brief  and largely photographic  – I’m typing this no less than 6 months in arrears and if I’m not brief I fear I’ll never finish!

After Northern Thailand we had decided to visit the bigger islands in the south that we hadn’t visited before. Apart from anything, Ann was keen to ditch self catering for a while and enjoy being waited on over the Christmas period. Phuket and Samui Islands also Hua Hin on the mainland, are all potential candidates for a future winter retreat for us away from the UK winter and they are all fairly cheap to get to from Chiang Mai so we thought we would visit all 3 places
(and more besides).

We flew from Chiang Mai to Phuket on 19th December .

We had decided to stay at  a couple of different places on Phuket that seemed both popular but quiet. Our first choice, Yanui Beach in the far South of the Island, definitely hit the spot.

Rawai Beach

Rawai Beach is the town nearest to Yanui Beach where we stayed at the Windmill Hotel over Christmas and New Year. Rawai Beach itself is nice enough but it’s not a swimming beach, lined  as it is with speed boats, long tail boats and fishing boats .

I guess you could call Rawai a working beach. At one end stands Rawai Pier with a small scruffy market and several fish restaurants on either side of the beach road with some of those on the beach side nothing more than seafood shacks. At the other end there is a Sea Gypsy Village with maybe ten or a dozen or so fish restaurants on the sea side of the road.

Boat trips to Phi Phi, James Bond and other Islands can be booked at any number of kiosks and Tourist Offices along the beach but we declined the many offers we had. There are hundreds of boats and thousands of tourists descending on these beaches daily and it didn’t sound an attractive proposition to us.

Plenty of operators offering speedboat trips to other islands
Plenty of operators offering speedboat trips to other islands

 

There are dozens of speedboats along the beach
There are dozens of speedboats along the beach
And plenty of traditional boats too
And plenty of traditional boats too

DSC01703

This is the entrance to the Sea Gypsy village almost opposite Coconut Paradise Bar
This is the entrance to the Sea Gypsy village almost opposite Coconut Paradise Bar – our favourite bar  for people watching.
And this is the down at the Sea Gypsey Village
And this is down at the Sea Gypsey Village

The roadside opposite the beach is lined with restaurants, bars and massage parlours some nice but some a tad scruffy but there are also  a number of modern and attractive residential/rental condo developments along the beach. A pleasant stroll of 20 minutes or so would get you from one end of the beach to the other though with temperatures every day in the mid 30s we would usually stop for a drink at some point along the beach.

There are smart bars and restaurants along Rawai Beach
There are smart bars and restaurants along Rawai Beach
And other more traditional establishments not quite so smart
And other more traditional fish restaurants establishments not quite so smart
There is no shortage of sea food restaurants here
There is no shortage of sea food restaurants here and  many have live sea food on sale

DSC01727

And plenty street food if thats your preference
And plenty of street food if thats your preference
This is one of a few smart residential developments along the front
This is one of a few smart residential developments along the front
Coconut Paradise - a really nice bar - we visited several times!
Coconut Paradise – a really nice bar – our favourite though we didn’t venture into many!
Mrs E enjoys a drink at Coconut Paradise
Mrs E enjoys a drink at Coconut Paradise
Every town everywhere has an Irish pub and Rawai is no exception.
Every town everywhere has an Irish pub and Rawai is no exception

Yanui Beach

Pretty Yanui Beach is small and secluded. Only 5 minutes drive or 20 minutes walk from Rawai Beach it stands between two promontories, Promthep Cape and the Windmill Lookout which provide stunning views of the beaches below and the islands beyond. There is a Life guard in season but the beach is nicely undeveloped with only a few operators renting beach cushions umbrellas, snorkel gear and other stuff and selling cold drinks and snacks. There are a couple of restaurants across the road .

The beach is apparently a great place to visit out of season when it is usually deserted – but not to swim as there are some difficult currents and no life guard.

Our hotel, the Windmill, is the only one in the immediate area and handily placed only a couple of hundred metres from the beach. A perfect spot.

 

Yanui Beach is a small secured beach totally undeveloped. On the beach itself is a Guy renting cushions and umbrella , another selling cold drinks and a mobile motor cycle kebab vendor. There are a couple of restaurants across the road at the back of the beach.
Yanui Beach is a small secluded beach totally undeveloped. On the beach itself is a Guy renting cushions, umbrellas and kayaks, another selling cold drinks and a mobile motor cycle kebab vendor. There are a couple of restaurants across the road at the back of the beach.

2015-12-31 13.00.22

Mrs E has a paddle
Mrs E has a paddle
Yanui Beach
Yanui Beach
A popular place for wedding photos
A popular place for wedding photos

2015-12-31 12.59.09

Yanui Beach
Yanui Beach

2016-01-02 13.27.58

2015-12-31 12.50.46

Yankee Beach seen from the viewpoint above the beach
Yanui Beach seen from the Viewpoint on the hill which separates it from the small resort of Nai Harn
This is Nai Harn Beach seen from the same Viewpoint
This is Nai Harn Beach seen from the same Viewpoint

Promthep Cape

This promontary above Yanui gives fabulous views but is always busy with coaches, full of tourists back and forth constantly. Their is a shrine here along with a lighthouse, memorials, shops and cafes.

The entrance to Promthep Cape on New Years Eve 2016
The entrance to Promthep Cape on New Years Eve 2015

2016-01-02 13.45.33

2016-01-02 13.41.12

2016-01-02 13.42.57

2016-01-02 13.43.45

2016-01-02 13.43.52

Shops and eateries at Promthep
There are many visitors, coach loads of them, visiting Promthep throughout every day and there is a street full of  shops cafes and street food vendors  to provide for them.

2015-12-31 13.51.36

Promthep Cape
Promthep Cape
Yankee from Cape Promthep
Yanui from Cape Promthep

2015-12-31 14.08.13

Restaurant at Yanui Beach
Restaurant at Yanui Beach
Restaurant at Yanui
Restaurant at Yanui

2015-12-31 13.06.34

Road leading from Rawai to Yanui Beach.This is a very quiet rural area with not a lot here other than a couple of restaurants , a couple of local shops a few villas and our hotel.
Road leading from Rawai to Yanui Beach. This is a very quiet rural area with not a lot here other than a couple of restaurants, a couple of local shops like this one, a few villas and the Windmill Hotel.
The excellent Windmill Hotel
The excellent Windmill Hotel

 

We booked 2 weeks at the Windmill Hotel and were not disappointed. The room was large with cool marble floors and marble bathroom and the bed was comfy. There was a large flat screen TV, good wifi and a full size fridge with an inexpensive minibar. We had a large balcony overlooking the large swimming pool with views otherwise of jungle and the sea beyond with  a small development of half a dozen villas being built beside the hotel.

The service and standard of food served in the hotel’s restaurant was very good indeed. The hotel is owned by an Englishman, Richard and his Thai wife who runs the kitchen – both Thai and Western food is tasty and inexpensive and with a very good breakfast included in the rate, we would survive on 2 meals a day in an attempt to keep the calories down and lose a few pounds, a plan destined to fail due to lack of any significant exercise in the hot sun!

The restaurant food is of such quality and value that there are a number of expats living in the area who seem to use the restaurant for both breakfast and dinner and many of the customers attending an excellent Christmas lunch were expats with Thai Partners.

 

The Windmill is 15 minutes walk from Rawai Beach and its many restaurants and bars. Or a 5 minute ride in this shuttle bus.
The Windmill is the only hotel in the immediate area although there are a couple of restaurants near the beach . Rawai Beach and its many restaurants and bars is a 15 minute walk away  or  a 5 minute ride in this shuttle bus.

2016-01-02 13.09.05

View towards the sea from our room
View towards the sea from our room
Countryside at the back and around the hotel
Countryside at the back and around the hotel
The road to Rawai seen from the back of the hotel
The road to Rawai seen from the back of the hotel

Christmas and New Year at the Windmill

We chose to stay in a hotel rather than an apartment over the Christmas and New Year period to enjoy the  festivities without having to fend for ourselves. We chose well. Christmas lunch was excellent with a traditional meal with all the trimmings and more – all at a very budget friendly price under £20 per head including wine! We enjoyed a lovely afternoon followed by a snooze before waking up to FaceTime with Matthew, Richard and Siobhan who were enjoying Christmas lunch at Matthew’s house.

New Year’s celebrations were a bit of a damp squib. A buffet dinner was on offer but wasn’t really advertised until a day or two before New Year and so numbers were a lot fewer than at Christmas and were mostly families with small children. We enjoyed the meal and then retired to our room seeing the New Year in a deux…

2015-12-25 13.55.15

A full house for Christmas lunch at the Windmill. A nice mix of hotel guests and local resident ex-pats.
A full house for Christmas lunch at the Windmill. A nice mix of hotel guests and local resident ex-pats.
The food , both Thai and Western ,is very good indeed.
The food, both Thai and Western, is very good indeed.

2015-12-25 14.14.05

New Year drinks at the Windmill
New Year drinks at the Windmill

DSC01767

Nai Harn Beach

Nai Harn is a short distance from Yanui Beach as the crow flies but is a walk of about 5km. We walked there from the hotel but caught a taxi back!

DSCN3573 (1)

DSCN3574 (1)

DSCN3576 (1)

DSCN3575 (1)

The beach is quite a bit bigger than Yanui Beach and more developed with a couple of big hotels nearby and lots of timber built restaurants all selling the same local food and lots of shops selling the same tee shirts and tourist stuff nestled in trees at the back of the beach. A few stalls sit on the  beach itself selling drinks and snacks. On the road leading to the beach there are street vendors selling fruit and snacks and a taxi place.

Although  bigger and busier than Yanui, it is nevertheless a lovely beach.

There is a large ornamental lake overlooked by a temple at the back of the beach which somehow seems  a little out of place in an area which is off the beaten track with no proper town or even village and only a few houses and hotels in the immediate area.

There's an ornamental lake at the back of the beach which seems to be in an odd place since its quite some way to the nearest town. There's also a temple overlooking the lake but we were not surprised at that - some of the biggest temples we have seen have been in the middle of no-where !
There’s an ornamental lake at the back of the beach which seems to be in an odd place since its quite some way to the nearest town. There’s also a temple overlooking the lake but we were not surprised at that – some of the biggest temples we have seen have been in the middle of no-where !

DSCN3586 (1)

DSCN3587 (1)

We tried Tandoori Nights at Chalong - not quite what we are used to but it did the trick!
We tried Tandoori Nights at Chalong – not quite what we are used to but it did the trick!

Friday Market

On December 28th we could no longer resist the urge to try the one and only Indian restaurant in the area and decided to walk the 6km from Rawai Beach up to Chalong – we also walked back! The place was quite small but fairly busy with every customer an ex-pat. The food wasn’t quite Indian as we know it but it did the trick for us. En route to the Indian we came across this market which we think is a Friday only market for locals.

2015-12-28 16.22.58

2015-12-28 16.23.20

2015-12-28 16.23.40

Real live slimy catfish !
They don’t get fresher than this.Real live slimy catfish !

2015-12-28 16.24.18

Pork balls anyone?
Pork balls anyone?

We had an excellent 2 week stay in Yanui and Rawai Beach. The hotel and its location were so good that we didn’t often wander too far away except to do some walking or try a few different restaurants – favourites were Coconut Paradise and The Islander which we discovered only a few days before we left – a bar run by ex-pats for ex-pats providing some excellent western and local food and colourful language we hadn’t heard the like since we last went to watch Man City!

Kata Beach

Next stop after Yanui/Rawai was Kata Beach which runs into Karon Beach with Patong Beach beyond.

We stayed at Mountain Seaview Apartments, a really nice small block of apartments perched  on a hill with views over the sea which is owned and run by a helpful Australian and his Thai Partner. There is no restaurant or pool here but residents have access to the facilities of CC’s Hide Away Hotel across the road which has a nice pool and shaded area for sitting and a bar and restaurant with a Happy Hour that works for both food and drink. Nice food too! The only downside was the challenging hill climb necessary to get up to the place but we soon got used to that and didn’t need to trouble the hotel’s shuttle service to/from town which we could have used had we needed it.

There isn’t a great deal to say about Kata. Its much bigger and much more touristic than Rawai with some very large resorts along the beach road. Its a beach resort which seems to be a very very popular place with Russian holiday makers. The beach was almost always packed and watching the crowds watching the sunset stood on the waters edge was quite amusing.

We spent most days here by the pool as it was just too hot to do any serious walking during the day. We got into a routine of walking into town around 4 or 5pm, jwalk a few kms and then go  for dinner. There is certainly no shortage of restaurants here and we tried Turkish (good) and Indian (so so) as well as local food. Probably our favourite place was a small local place near the apartment where the 2 of us dined for £6 or £7.

 dddddddddddddddd
Mountain Seaview Apartments at Kata
The xxxxxxxx , a nice place to spend an afternoon by the pool.
C C’s Hideaway, sister hotel to the Seaview Apartments – a nice place to spend an afternoon by the pool below
This beach photo is deceptive as it gives the impression of quiet when in fact it was very busy most of the time we visited
This beach photo is deceptive as it gives the impression of quiet when in fact it was very busy most of the time we visited

DSC01783

DSC01782

DSC01797

DSC01801

DSC01804

DSC01775

DSC01774 (1)

DSC01773 (1)

Probably our favourite Rawai eatery and certainly the cheapest was the local Built Restaurant at the bottom of Soi 10 near the apartment.
Probably our favourite Rawai eatery and certainly the cheapest was this one. Built Restaurant at the bottom of Soi 10 near the apartment.

Patong Beach – Shopping Malls and a Walking Street of GoGo Bars and Ping Pong Shows

Patong Beach has a reputation as a wild  “Party Central” and as such is definitely not  our scene but it was only a short taxi ride down the coast so we thought we would have a look. We didn’t linger long. After wandering  around the very large and flash Jungceylon Mall, more of an air conditioned street than a mall, we walked down Bangla Road which is the walking street where all the action is and then along the seafront. We found a highly recommended Indian Restaurant, Arabia, but left disappointed after a very average curry. Home to bed!

P1180025

P1180011

P1180013

 

P1180022

P1180019

 

We spent  7 nights on Kata Beach and then moved onto our final stop on Phuket, Phuket Old Town.

Phuket Old Town

 

We decided to visit Phuket Town because we had read that it’s quite different from the beach resorts and an interesting place to see because of its restored Old Town area with its Sino-Portugese shophouses and several mansion houses. We had read one review saying the place is reminiscent of George Town, Penang and it is albeit on a much smaller scale as the re-developed part of the Old Town currently covers only 3 or 4 streets although we saw a lot of work going on which hopefully means more is due to be restored. The other reason we visited was to do some shopping – Phuket Town is a big place and has several malls.

This was a nice change after beach resorts. We stayed 3 nights at Baan S, a pleasant enough hotel with all the facilities we needed and with a great location right on the edge of the  Old Town with its shops and restaurants.

Luckily we arrived on Sunday afternoon and so were able to visit the Sunday Market/Walking Street, probably the best one we have visited .

On Monday, after a lie-in, we took a taxi to Central Mall where Ann managed to buy a few bits and pieces over the course of several hours. Dinner was at the excellent Kopitiam restaurant not far from the hotel on Thalang Road in the Old Town

Kopitiam restaurant
Kopitiam restaurant

Ann was determined to make the most of the retail opportunities and so on Tuesday we tackled the shops around the Old Town and happily she was able to find a few more bits and pieces  that she “really needed”. Following a late lunch we took a tuk tuk to Robinson’s Department Store for a look around and to escape the heat and where lo and behold we found a Boots The Chemist which added another 2 or 3 kilos to our baggage!

Here are some photos taken around the Old Town area.

DSCN3665

DSC01935

DSC01937

DSC01938

DSC01936

DSC01932

 

DSC01931

 

DSC01941

 

DSC01940

DSCN3674

 

A Thai favourite - Mango and sticky rice
A Thai favourite – Mango and sticky rice

 

Sunday Walking Street

This night market takes place in the Old Town on Thalang Road, a beautifully renovated street only a short walk from our hotel. It’s a family orientated market and we visited on what seemed to be a special “Childrens’ Day”  when there was lots of stuff happening for kids with a free trampoline, loads of free entertainment and games with prizes. It’s a very busy place but there’s a great atmosphere and the food is incredibly good and as always incredibly cheap. Definitely our favourite night market so far.

DSC01814

DSC01846

 

DSC01830

DSC01894

DSC01887

DSC01875

DSC01831

 

DSC01858

DSC01851

DSC01860

DSC01907

DSC01920

 

Our final day was spent in similar fashion with a lie-in, followed by shopping with an early night for an early flight to Koh Samui the next day.

This was planned to be a short post but hasn’t worked out that way. Sorry! If anyone is still visiting this blog I promise the rest will be less wordy and more pictures…..

Next stop is Koh Samui.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thailand – The Golden Triangle

 

DSCN3294

The Golden Triangle is in the far North East of Thailand and is the point at which three countries meet – Myanmar (Burma),Thailand and Laos. It is so named because the area was once the largest area in the world for illegal opium production. Although no longer the largest producer, the trade is still significant and apparently increasing along with the money laundering activities that go with it.

Like Mae Hong Son and Pai, this is another far flung area well away from any large cities which is becoming more popular with travellers who have the inclination to visit. There are any number of travel companies and agencies offering tours to the Golden Triangle but we had  a Guide, Joy, who knows the area intimately.

Driving directly from Chiang Mai to the Golden Triangle takes over four hours and so too far for a day trip. We opted for a an overnight stay in Chiang Rai which is just over an hour from the Triangle. Chiang Rai is the largest city in the far north of Thailand with a population of around 70,000. A standard organised tour would include visits to hill tribe villages, elephant camps and possibly tiger “sanctuaries” but we chose not to visit these places when we came to finalise our itinerary for the trip.

We had spent the first three days of the week commencing 7th December with Joy and his wife Goy travelling the Mae Hong Son Loop. On Thursday 10th we set off for the Golden Triangle. This would be a long day with a lot of driving but no hardship as the scenery for the most part is through a picturesque mountainous region.

After  a coffee break at Thaweesin Hot Springs  (totally underwhelming), our first proper stop was at Baan Dam, the Black House, near Chiang Rai.

A coffee break at Mae Khachan Hot Springs en route to Chiang Rai - underwhelming -but great Thai coffee.
A coffee break at Thaweesin Hot Springs en route to Chiang Rai – underwhelming -but great Thai coffee.

DSCN3247

 

The Black House is a weird but interesting place. Various buildings with interesting architecture are dotted around quite a large site and contain a large collection of art exhibits created by a single artist.

Thawan Duchanee, a local Thai artist now regarded as a Thai National Artist, developed a style of work representing the darkness of humanity.The exhibits are mostly coloured black and red and more than a little macabre as the artist is fond of using bits of animals, skulls, skins and other parts in his artwork. The buildings themselves are adorned with animal parts and apparently you can buy products made with animal parts, such as crocodile handbags, in the souvenir shop! We spent an hour and a half or so here but could easily have spent longer – there is a lot to see. Here are some pictures …..

DSCN3255

DSCN3268 (1)

DSCN3273 (1)

DSCN3256 (1)

DSCN3267 (1)

DSCN3258

DSCN3264 (1)

DSCN3260 (1)

A large deceased snake makes for an interesting table runner
A large deceased snake makes for an interesting table runner
Here's another runner made from the skin of a crocodile
Here’s another runner made from the skin of a crocodile
The exhibits include a collection of the artists paintings and some of them are quite striking...
The exhibits include a collection of the artists paintings and some of them are quite striking…

 

Next stop was Mae Sai, the northern most city in Thailand where there is a border crossing  into Myanmar much used by Westerners on a visa run. Not an especially interesting town but there’s a busy market and the town is apparently a shopping paradise for precious stones and jewellery – the wealth perhaps not un-connected to the main trading in this Golden Triangle area. There is an unusual temple high on a hill with views over the border crossing to Myanmar. The Scorpion Temple includes some interesting statues including memorials to King Naresuan famous for beating back several Burmese invasions and killing the Burmese Crown Prince in a duel back in the day. As a reminder to all concerned, a giant scorpion statue stands facing Myanmar in a threatening pose.

DSCN3287 (1)

The Scorpion statue at Mae Sai
The Scorpion statue at Mae Sai

 

DSC01531

DSC01535 (2)

DSCN3289

Views over the border into Myanmar
Views over the border into Myanmar

From Mae Sai our next stop was the Golden Triangle, the point where Thailand, Myanmar and Laos can be seen from a viewpoint over the confluence of the Mekong and Ruak Rivers.

Looking down over three countries
Looking down with a view over three countries with the mighty Mekong separating Laos on the far bank right of the picture. The river in the foreground is the Ruak River, the natural boundary between Thailand and Mynanmar

 

DSCN3297

After a break here it was on to Chiang Saen, home to a big golden Buddha, actually a rather tacky looking Buddha in a  tacky touristic place packed with Thai and Chinese tourists on the day. From here we took a short boat trip on the Mekong with a brief stop on Don Sao Island Laos – actually a large Laos island on the river – for an opportunity to buy Snake Whisky, luggage, handbags, tee shirts and other Laos souvenirs  and to be badgered by Laotian kids begging for money.

DSCN3337

This place seemed quite tacky to us but the Asian tourists of various nationalities seemed to enjoy it......
This place seemed quite tacky to us but the Asian tourists of various nationalities seemed to enjoy it……
Boats loaded with tourists buzzing back and forth constantly on the Mekong
Boats loaded with tourists buzzing back and forth constantly on the Mekong
We had our own craft - albeit modest . Nice shirt isn't it!
We had our own craft – albeit modest . Nice shirt though!

 

DSCN3317

 

DSCN3322

 

DSCN3327

 

Joy fooling around with a bottle of snake whisky
Joy fooling around with a bottle of snake whisky

 

Yes , definitely real snakes - to add the power of the cobra to the whiskey
Yes, definitely real snake – apparently it adds  the power of the cobra to the whiskey
But you don't see this everywhere .Snake whisky - but not just snakes !
But its not just snake in there……..

The constant badgering by stall holders and begging kids was rather tiresome and so we didn’t hang around in Laos for long. We had a short ride upriver where Laos has an economic zone which houses, in an area which is totally rural, the Romans Casino. The casino sits in the Golden Triangle Special Economic Zone created when Laos agreed a lucrative lease with a chinese gambling operation to build and run the casino.

King Roman's Casino on the banks of the Mekong. Chinese flock to this casino - once they travelled via river but fear of
Chinese gamblers flock to King Roman’s Casino on the banks of the Mekong.

Chinese love gambling and since casinos are illegal in China, high rollers flood over the border to gamble here in an area which is rife with drug trafficking and other illegal activities. Inevitably the colossal amount of money washing around in the area doesn’t exactly stifle the already high level of corruption in this part of Asia where the Chinese are investing more and more, building dams, rubber plantations and casinos along its borders. The building of dams to generate electricity in the upper Mekong is controversial since the river runs the entire length of this region from China through Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam providing water and food to the people. The impact on the control of the water flow from the upper river by the Chinese will inevitably impact countless people who live on the river.

After our interesting boat ride we hit the road for Chiang Rai, a drive of an hour or so. We had booked a room at Nak Nakara Hotel which was quite a bit over our budget but recommended by Joy and we didn’t really fancy any of the budget alternatives. It was a good choice with a nice room and a very good breakfast.

We arrived in Chiang Rai at dusk dropped our bags and headed out for dinner. This was one of very few occasions where we hadn’t researched eateries in advance. We had Tripadviser to advise us but it was difficult to get our bearings in the darkness and we headed for one and then another restaurant which we failed to find. Thus our only evening in Chiang Rai was spent wandering the streets until after over an hour or so, desperate, we stopped at a burger joint consisting of a few tables and benches and a couple of wooden cabins, one a bar and the other the kitchen. It turned out to be a great pick as we had the best burgers we have ever eaten anywhere! Amazing !

The colour changing clocktower of Chiang Mai
The colour changing clocktower of Chiang Rai

 

DSC01560

After a comfortable night and an excellent breakfast at Nak Nakara, we had quick look around some Chiang Rai temples which, frankly, we found unremarkable – maybe we were getting templed-out! We  then made our way back to Chiang Mai via the famous White Temple , a visit to Doiluang National Park and then a lunch stop  before the final stretch to Chiang Mai.

DSC01585

Wat Rong Khun , more popularly known by Westerners as The White Temple was built in the late 1990’s on the site of an old temple of the same name which had fallen into disrepair due to lack of public funds. A Thai artist agreed to re-build a temple to his own design and at his own expense and the White Temple is the result. The temple was opened to the public unfinished and is still unfinished. An earthquake caused damaged in 2014 but the damage repairs and work carries on and is not expected to be completed for at least 50 years..

Some earthquake damage from 2014 in course of repair
Some earthquake damage from 2014 in course of repair

This is an awesome place to visit. It’s very big and very white! The white cement render has slivers of mirror set into it so it is ultra shiny in the sunlight – striking to say the least. Each of the buildings and various features, for example the bridge by which the main building is accessed and the “Sea of Hands”, are symbolic. An explanation as to their meaning and significance can be found via google.

The White Temple is really quite extraordinary and is considered to be an outstanding example of modern art.It has become the Artists life work and he believes it will give him immortal life. When it is completed will include a centre for learning and meditation .

DSCN3380

 

DSC01590

 

DSC01600

 

DSC01613 (1)

DSCN3390 (1)

 

DSC01602

 

2015-12-11 09.30.55

 

DSCN3401

 

The Gold Building at the White Temple is very ornately decorated and its colour is symbolic. It houses the Rest Rooms - and very posh they are !
The Gold Building at the White Temple is very ornately decorated and its colour is symbolic. It houses the Rest Rooms – and very posh they are !
This is the local artist Chalermchai Kositpipat who decided to completely rebuild Wat Rong Khun.
This is the local artist Chalermchai Kositpipat who decided to completely rebuild Wat Rong Khun.

 

After a couple of hours at the White Temple, ahead of schedule we drove on  to Doiluang National Park. Joy had never visited this place himself but had heard it was good and was keen  to take a look to see if it was place that he could add to his tours.We agreed and were glad we did as this is a lovely forest park with lots of walking trails including an uphill up-river climb past a series of waterfalls. Unfortunately the walk turned out to be longer and tougher than we had expected and running out of time, we had to give up and turned around half-way (we think) before we reached the end of the track.

DSCN3424 (1)

Goy posing for photos in the park
Goy posing for photos in the park

DSCN3414

DSCN3415

DSCN3407

DSCN3416

DSCN3412

DSCN3409

DSCN3411 (1)

Our final brief lunch stop was at Phayao. Joy wanted to drive us around a very large and beautiful lake but for some reason many of the roads had been cordoned off. Joy and Goy went off for lunch but Ann and I didn’t want a big lunch and ended up with a beer and a packet of crisps sat by the water  watching a fisherman work his way around the lake with his net.

We spent a nice half hour watching a fisherman expertly casting his net on the lake.
We spent a nice half hour watching a fisherman expertly casting his net on the lake.

As we were sat enjoying our beer, crowds of Bike for Dad bikers started to arrive in numbers apparently getting  ready for the off.

First a trickle and then dozen of cyclists arriving for the Bike For Dad Event
First a trickle and then dozens of cyclists arriving for the Bike For Dad Event

 

DSCN3429

Ever since we arrived in Thailand, even for the first time back in September, we had seen hundreds, thousands, of men, women and children wearing yellow tee-shirts emblazoned
” Bike for Dad”. It turned out that this week was the culmination of  the “Bike for Dad” Event,
a mass bicycle ride taking place all over Thailand to celebrate the King’s 88th birthday.
Today, Friday 11th December, the Crown Prince was leading over 100,000 cyclists around Bangkok with hundreds or thousands of other rides taking place in cities, towns and villages all over Thailand. It’s estimated that well over the 600,000 registered cyclists took part! Chiang Mai was grid-locked for hours.

Joy eventually dropped us off around 6pm. For a final time we walked down to Nimmenhaemin for a few beers at the Kamrai bottle shop followed by a curry. Tomorrow we would leave Chiang Mai and move out into the countryside for a few days of R&R at Baanpong Lodge about an hours drive from Chiang Mai.

Baanpong Lodge

Baanpong Lodge is a small hotel on the edge of a tiny village Ontai in the San Kamphaeng area outside Chiang Mai. It’s a rural escape which seems to be popular with Thai and ex-pat families living in Chiang Mai and it’s popular for cycling, walking, climbing and chilling out. We were there to chill and do a bit of walking and thats pretty much what we did.

This is a rural area with small villages nearby but with several surprisingly large Temples. There’s a man-made lake quite close which is popular with the locals for fishing but with a long period of drought the water level was low for the few fishers we saw but adequate enough for the water buffalo. Here are a few photos….

 

DSCN3470

 

DSC01660

 

DSCN3524

DSC01686

 

DSC01674

 

DSCN3478

 

Enough water for the animals
The lake is low for fishing but the animals seem happy…

 

We were a tad surprised to find these two lady fishers. Sadly they spoke no English and we don't speak Thai but they hadn't caught anything ...
We were a tad surprised to find these two lady fisher persons in a remote area of the lake. They spoke no English but they allowed us take their photograph. All smiles and laughter this was typical of how we found most of the the Thai people we met. They hadn’t caught any fish….

 

There are several surprisingly large temples here despite what appears to be a small population
There are several surprisingly large temples here despite what appears to be a small population

 

DSCN3523

 

DSCN3525

 

A true loo with a view. This found beside the lake near Baanpong Lodge....
A loo with a view – but zilch privacy beside the lake near Baanpong Lodge. Bizarre !

 

DSCN3502 (1)

After 5 relaxing days at Baanpong, we left on 19th December to fly South to Phuket Island .We had spent 20 days in Northern Thailand and had very much enjoyed our time here but we were now looking forward to spending Christmas by the sea.

 

 

Thailand – Mae Hong Son Loop

dDSCN2943

The Mae Hong Son Loop is approximately 600KM long and is a circular route around the north west of Thailand which starts from Chiang Mai and takes you through Mae Hong Son Province ending back at Chiang Mai. It has been a hippy trail for some years and many do the trip by bus or on motor bikes; we don’t do bikes and the bus journey didn’t sound great travelling up and over mountains on a route that includes 762 curves. We decided that, as for a few other places, we would get the best of this trip by using a local guide. There is no doubt you see and understand a lot more when you have a guide who speaks the language and lives the culture and so we researched the various forums on the area to find some recommendations. We found that a guide named Pronchadin Potiya aka Joy regularly gets rave reviews from his western clients and so we contacted him. Happily he was available at the time we wanted to travel and he helped us develop an itinerary that would suit us – we would visit those places which were “must see ” for us and swerve those places which for us were “mustn’t sees” – touristic hill tribe villages and animal “attractions” – elephant camps and dodgy tiger “sanctuaries.”

At 7am on Monday 7th December Joy picked us up at our apartment in his nice big 4×4 vehicle. The vehicle was spotless and he had thought of everything to ensure our comfort for the day with cold water, refreshments etc. Joy was accompanied by his wife Goy ( yes, a double act, Joy and Goy!) who would act as Driver’s Mate. Joy is a charming bloke, intelligent and very knowledgable with excellent english and a great sense of humour; Goy is equally charming but has virtually no english but we enjoyed her company nevertheless.

Doi Ithanon National Park

Doi Ithanon is in the Chom Thong District of Chiang Mai Province a two hour drive from Chiang Mai. It is the highest mountain in Thailand at 2565m. The park is a popular tourist attraction for Thai and overseas visitors although the cooler weather at this height means that the magnificent views are often shrouded in mist and cloud – as they were when we visited. Nevertheless its a beautiful place and it would have been nice to have had more time to do some exploring. It’s a 2 hour drive from Chiang Mai and most people visit as a day trip and spend several hours here but we had a 200km 4 hour drive on to Mae Hong Son and so our time was limited.

At the foot of the mountain are two impressive chedis (shrines), one built in 1987 in honour of the 60th birthday of the King and the other built in 1992 honouring the 60th birthday of the Queen. The chedis face each other and each is reached by a long flight of steps – very impressive. These chedis are furnished with some magnificent statues and tiled murals on walls and ceilings and they stand in beautiful manicured gardens although even at this lower level mist ruled out any good photos.

DSCN2824

There some splendid views apparently - but not today...
There some splendid views apparently – but not today…
Wachirathan Waterfall - the second biggest but most impressive waterfall at Doi Ithanon NP
Wachirathan Waterfall – the second biggest but most impressive waterfall at Doi Ithanon NP

DSCN2805

DSCN2821

DSCN2841

DSCN2844

DSCN2854

DSCN2852

DSCN2856

DSCN2833

DSCN2838

DSCN2858

DSCN2829

There are Karen and Hmong tribal villages nearby and Joy stopped at a hmong market selling to buy nibbles.
There are Karen and Hmong tribal villages nearby to and Joy took the opportunity to stop and buy nibbles at a Hmong market outside the National Park. Thais love their food and seem to be constantly eating throughout the day but mostly stay skinny – very annoying!
The scenery is awesome here and the area is popular for trecking. Here are some pictures of the scenery en route

DSCN2876

DSCN2875

DSCN2877

Harvesting corn in Northern Thailand. When finished the remaining stubble will be burned to clear the land for the next planting. This seems to go on all over Asia - as we well know from our experience in, Sumatra, Java and elsewhere
Harvesting corn in Northern Thailand. When finished the remaining stubble will be burned to clear the land for the next planting. This seems to go on all over Asia – as we well know from our experience in Sumatra, Java and elsewhere

DSCN2884

DSC01247

Mae Hong Son

Mae Hong Son town is the capital of a Province of the same name sitting in the north west corner of Thailand in a remote valley near the Burmese border surrounded by mountains. This was a former staging post for the Japanese in World War II when they carved a road through in preparation for their planned invasion of Burma. The place didn’t become truly acessible until the late 1980s when a sealed road to Chiang Mai was built.

It is a very nice laid back town centred on a lake lined on one side by a street of restaurants which becomes a walking street at night with lots of opportunities to buy street food and clothing and knick knacks made by hill tribe people. On the opposite side of the lake stand several temples built in Burmese style on a large site. Each temple comprises several buildings and chedis and in some cases it’s difficult to fathom out where one temple ends and the next one begins.

The place is pretty enough during the day but becomes magical at night when the walking street comes to life and the temples are lit up along with the over sized plastic water hyacinth floating in the lake.

DSCN2987

An oversize floating plastic hyacinth and lanterns might look a tad tacky by day but are quite atmospheric when illuminated along with the quite when immuminated
An oversize floating plastic hyacinth and lanterns might look a tad tacky by day but are quite atmospheric at night when illuminated along with the lakeside temples and the bright lights of the walking street.

DSCN2962 (2)

DSC01315

DSCN2973

Ann with Joy and Goy in front of one of the Mae Hong Son temples
Ann with Joy and Goy in front of one of the Mae Hong Son temples

DSCN2919

DSCN2985

DSCN2966

DSC01328

DSC01326

A few night time snaps

Mae Hong Son's temples at night, pictured from the walking street side of the lake.
Mae Hong Son’s temples at night, pictured from the walking street side of the lake.

DSC01284 (1)

DSC01291

DSC01282 (1)

A variety of grilled meats with salted fish which is seen all over Thailand
A variety of grilled meats with salted fish which is seen all over Thailand

Standing on a hill looking down on the lake and the town stands another temple. We called to have a look as we were leaving town.

DSCN2955

No shortage of temples at Mae Hong Son. This one, Wat Phra That Doi Kong Mu, stands on a mountain looking down over the town.
Wat Phra That Doi Kong Mu, stands on a hill looking down over the town. Very peaceful
Offerings to be laid at the chedi
As always there are offerings for sale…….
As often is the case there are retail opportunities at the temple - silly hats and other moments
And also as usual, opportunities to buy drinks, snacks, silly hats and other mementoes of your visit.
What better time to buy lottery ticket - after prayers....
And what better time to buy a lottery ticket – after prayers…

 

DSCN2943

Looking down over Mae Hong Son from the temple on the hill
Looking down over Mae Hong Son and its lake Jong Kum from the temple on the hill. You might just spot a pink object on the lake – the giant plastic hyacinth!
For those less inclined to a multi hour bus ride to Mae hong Son, the town does have a small airport with flights from Chiang Mai most days.
For those less inclined to a multi hour bus ride to Mae Hong Son, the town does have a small airport, see the runway here, with flights arriving from Chiang Mai most days.

We stayed only one night at Mae Hong Son, at Point Villa with an OK room but inedible breakfast. It would have been nice to stay longer in the town and we would definitely return if we ever get chance. We really enjoyed the laid back atmosphere in the town and the fact that it isn’t massively geared up for western tourists. We didn’t get much time to interact with the locals but they do seem shyer than Thais we met elsewhere but friendly enough all the same.

On December 8th, after a wander around the market and temples of Mae Hong Son, we set off around noon en route to Pai. It’s a 3 hour drive from Mae Hong Son to Pai and we would travel through some magnificent scenery over a range of mountains quite close to the Burmese border in places – but there would be a few stops along the way and the first stop was only an hour or so after leaving Mae Hong Son.

Tham Pla Ranger Station at Pha Sua National park sits in a mountainous forested area and is a popular attraction for locals with a nature trail which leads to a hollow cave with a connecting pond and streams which hold large numbers of a carp like fish which according to legend belong to the guardian spirit of the forest. The park is set in gorgeous countryside and the teeming numbers of fish in the river, quite large due a constant stream of fish food fed to them by tourists, is impressive. In addition to bags of fish pellets, as always there are opportunities for purchases of fruit, food and drink and souvenirs.

DSCN2996

DSC01332

DSCN2989

DSCN3009

DSC01333 (1)

DSCN2997

DSC01334

the usual souvenir stop and feeding station !
the usual souvenir stop and feeding station!
and the usual shrine...
and the usual shrine…

After an hour or so we got back on the road but soon stopped briefly at what apparently is one of Joy’s favourite eateries in the area. This was quite a large restaurant given we were in a small hamlet in the middle of nowhere and it was really quite busy being one of few stopping places on the road from Mae Hong Son to Pai. It was definitely a locals’ place and definitely not a place that Ann and I would have chosen had we been on our own. The food was “so so” and we didn’t eat much but the entertainment was good and largely provided by a waitress who ran around the place serving at table at 100 miles an hour carrying a baby on her back!

The food wasn't great but the people watching was good - especially this waitress who dashed around serving several tables at once with a baby on her back.quality
The food wasn’t great but the people watching was good – especially this waitress who dashed around at a hundred miles an hour serving several tables at once with a baby on her back.
Break -time for our waitress who was happy to pose for a picture...
Break -time for our waitress who was happy to pose for a picture…
Fantastic mountain scenery en route to Pai
Fantastic mountain scenery throughout the journey to Pai

From time to time during our days with Joy and Goy we would come by roadside markets and would invariably stop to buy snacks or fruit. These markets would often be miles from anywhere and often, like this one pictured below, at scenic viewing points high in the mountains. The women and children in the pictures below belong to the local hill tribes many of whom are the descendants of Burmese, Tibetan or Chinese people who left their homes to flee conflicts of one kind or another in their own countries. They are wearing thanaka which is a yellowish paste made from tree bark and worn as a sun screen. When I googled this, it references Burmese women, not too surprising as this area is very near to the border with Burma (Myanmar) but we saw women wearing this stuff in towns and cities in other parts of Thailand. Unlike most Westerners, Thai people don’t like to be exposed to the sun. Indeed many women in the cities use whitening products to give them a fairer complexion and a more western look.

DSCN3067

DSCN3066

DSC01344

DSCN3070

Our final stop of the day was at Lod (or Lot) Cave near a small town Soppong about an hours drive from Pai. This is quite a large and impressive cave system of around 1.5KM long with heights of 50 meters in places. It’s full of interesting limestone stalactites and we quite enjoyed it although we wouldn’t usually bother with visits to caves!

There is a small river flowing into the caves and this provides access via a raft which is pulled in and then punted a short distance. Once inside the cave, you dismount and then climb through the different levels of the caves by timber stairways which would give any Liability Insurer palpitations! In the event we spent about an hour and a half in the caves and escaped unscathed and with lots of photos. Here’s a few:

DSCN3071

DSC01401

The stream leading into thecae is stuffed with fish.They are probably blind given they live in the dark but feed voraciously on the fish pellets thrown in by visitors.
The stream leading into thecae is stuffed with fish. They are probably blind given they live in the dark but feed voraciously on the fish pellets thrown in by visitors.

DSC01359

DSC01367

DSC01361

DSC01377

DSC01368

DSC01381

Ni hard hats here !
No hard hats here!

After a couple of hours at Lod Cave we got back on the road for the final stretch of our journey to Pai. There is nothing in between the two towns other than the odd farm but we stopped once or twice to take snaps and the one hour drive took nearer two.

DSC01460

Pai

Pai is a small town with a population of just over 2,000. It’s 146km north west of Chiang Mai on the Pai River near the Myanmar border. The town is probably the most popular destination for hippies and back-packers in Northern Thailand and there are apparently lots of folk who visit for a day or two but stay for weeks and months or forever as did Connor at the guest house, where we stayed. We have seen it described both as a hippy hell and a hippy heaven and in truth I wasn’t particularly looking forward to it as it sounded very much a kids’ scene but in the event we liked the place although we were there for only a few hours in the evening and a tour of the highlights of the region the next morning.

We stayed at Oasis, a £10 per night Guest House run by a very affable English owner named Connor. At these prices the place is popular with back-packers but the accommodation whilst definitely not fancy was clean and well kitted out with kettle, fridge and mosquito net and we wouldn’t hesitate to use the place again. Connor is the font of all knowledge on matters Pai and gave us plenty of tips on places to visit in the area before kindly driving us the short distance into town for dinner on his motor bike and side car, leaving us with the offer of catching up with him in his favourite bar for a drink and a lift back at the end of the night.

 Reception and Bar at Oasis Pai Resort
Reception and Bar at Oasis Pai Resort complete with friendly dog. No dog on the menu here…..
Our room/unit at Oasis. Doesn't look much and its definitely pretty basic but its clean and comfortable with everything you need for a night or two - including a
Our room/unit at Oasis. Doesn’t look much and its definitely pretty basic but its clean and comfortable with everything you need for a night or two – including a “bar” and a really nice owner

 

Nothing special about Pai town itself but there are plenty of places for cheap eats and cheap sleeps
Nothing special about Pai town itself but there are plenty of places for cheap eats and cheap sleeps

DSCN3132

Someone's wedding day in ai...
Someone’s wedding day in ai…

 

 

 

The town is full of back-packer accommodation, bars cafes and restaurants with lots of trendy places with stuff geared towards Westerners – organic food stores, chinese medicine practitioners, yoga places and the like. The town apparently does get wild but ours was the briefest of visits and we thankfully missed the excess partying, although I did see illicit substances changing hands albeit discretely, despite the potential death sentence for those caught. In truth, on the evening we were in town it seemed very quiet once we had got away from the walking street and the restaurant/bar where we had dinner, said to be one of the best and most popular places in Pai, was almost empty.

Pai's night market runs every night. There are live entertainers, mostly trying to raise funds for charity, school funds ( seen a lot in Thailand) and the like and of course lots of street food quite a bit of which we didn't recognise. Lots street food, of course and stalls selling all kinds of Pai memorabilia, clothing and odds and sods
Pai’s night market runs every night. There are live entertainers, mostly trying to raise funds for charity, school funds (seen a lot in Thailand) and the like and of course lots of street food quite a bit of which we didn’t recognise. Lots of stalls selling the inevitable “I Love Pai” t-shirts and all manner of other Pai memorabilia, clothing and other hippy products.
Lots of live entertainment at Pai Night Market. This Guy is some kind of military but we haven't a clue what hw was raising money for.
Lots of live entertainment at Pai Night Market. This Guy is some kind of military but we haven’t a clue what he was raising money for.

DSC01424 (1)

Anyone for tea?
Anyone for tea?

Like Mae Hong Son, Pai is a town that would be good to return to for a longer visit. Usually on our travels we have deliberately travelled slowly to allow the odd day or two or more here and there to do absolutely nothing other than to chill out and get the feel for the place. We didn’t have this luxury of time on our hands to hang around on this tour but the “must sees” of Pai are actually outside of town and we visited them all except some waterfalls which were apparently down to a dribble because of the prevailing drought conditions.

Pai is set in stunning countryside and apparently there is some terrific tracking to be done.
Outskirts of Pai. The town is set in stunning countryside and apparently there is some terrific tracking to be done.

 

SHANDICUN CHINESE VILLAGE

We set off from Pai around 8.30am on the 9th December on the final leg of the Mae Hong Son Loop back to Chiang Mai but first we called at Shandicun, a Chinese village and Cultural Centre on the outskirts of Pai.

Shandicun is a real living and breathing Chinese town whose inhabitants are mostly Yunnanese Chinese whose grandparents crossed the China-Thai border to escape the Communist Party of China back in the days of Mao Tse Tung. Many others came due to involvement in the opium trade that once flourished and it was suggested to us, still exists to some extent.

 

Replica of a section of the Great Wall of China at Shandicun
Replica of a section of the Great Wall of China at Shandicun

 

Chinese Tearoom...
Chinese Tearoom…

DSC01453

DSCN3110

Shops built of mud sell mostly Chinese tea
Shops built of mud selling tourist tat, Chinese tea – and ice-cream
 is like a Disney Chinese Theme Park Village without the rides - except for pony rides and this contraption which didn't look too safe to us
Shandicun is like a Disney Chinese Theme Park Village without the rides – except for this contraption which was very popular but didn’t look too safe to us

DSC01452

The modern generation of these Yunnan people now are Thai citizens and can speak Thai and Chinese fluently. The Thai Government has turned the village into a tourist attraction and its a little like a small Chinese themed Disneyland without the rides. There are a few restaurants in the village selling authentic Yunnanese food and lots of tiny shops mostly selling Chinese tea. A few shops sell traditional Yunnan costumes and if you don’t want to buy you can hire costumes for 100 baht and have your pictures taken in them – see the pictures below.

Thai tourists dressed up in Yannanese costume for a photo session.
Thai tourists dressed up in Yannanese costume for a photo session.
And our Guide Joy like most Thais and indeed most Asians love to be in the picture taking selfies or having photos taken. Joy couldn't resist this photo opportunity.
Many Thais and indeed many Asians seem obsessed with their appearance and constantly take selfies and love to be in the picture. Our Guide Joy is no exception and he couldn’t resist this photo opportunity.

Shandicun an interesting from the point of view of the history of the place and the local Chinese people. There is a small photographic “museum” recounting the history but it’s cheesy in the extreme. I doubt we will return.

We left Shandicun late morning and after a short drive stopped south of Pai at Pai Canyon. The drive as ever, presented a photo opportunity every few hundred yards but Joy was happy to stop whenever we wanted which we did quite a few times to watch farm workers in the field harvesting the rice or corn.

Harvest time for villagers near
Harvest time for villagers near Shandicun

DSCN3117

DSCN3119

DSCN3121 (1)

DSCN3140 (1)

DSC01468 (1)

Pai Canyon is a popular Pai attraction around 10k from Pai on the road to Chiang Mai. The canyon consists of a high narrow path which has been left after thousands of years of erosion have eaten away the land either side of the path. In true Thai style there no railings to be seen anywhere and so its only the bravest of the most surefooted hikers that will walk this trail. Pretty scary!

DSCN3218

DSCN3225

Ann standing quite close enough to the edge of the canyon
Ann standing quite close enough to the edge of the canyon
And Joy can't resist a pose.
And Joy can’t resist a pose.

Next stop on the route was Wat Phra That Mae Yen a temple set on a hill on the south side of Pai. The temple itself was actually closed but the main attraction here is a huge white Buddha that is reached by over 400 concrete steps. Amazing views to be had here and of course we took a few snaps.

DSCN3145

DSCN3147 (1)

DSCN3151 (1)

DSC01472

After our visit to the Temple on the Hill, it was time for a refreshment break – coffee and cake at Coffee in Love, a very popular tourist honeypot on the Chiang Mai road. This place is very much geared up to tourists with Coffee in Love T-shirts and mugs and the like with cake and cookies all labelled and packaged with “Coffee in Love” packaging. They were certainly doing a roaring trade when we visited but the attraction for us were the gardens and fabulous views to be seen from the place.

DSC01486 (1)

DSCN3183 (1)

DSC01474 (1)

DSC01477 (1)

DSCN3179

DSCN3199

DSCN3189

DSC01479

After leaving Coffee in Love, we stopped again within minutes to buy some last minute snacks before getting back on the road. We stopped at Love Pai Strawberry Cafe another very popular stop for tourists which is more than a cafe selling all kinds of strawberry goodies – cake, jams, sweets, wine and of course Love Pai Strawberry memorabilia. And strawberries! All grown on site.

DSC01497

DSC01490

DSC01500

DSCN3215

DSC01501

Our final stop before leaving the Pai area for the last leg of our journey back to Chiang Mai was at the Memorial Bridge over the River Pai. It’s quite an impressive bridge but it isn’t the original. The original bridge was timber built by the Japanese using local forced labour and elephants. The bridge was intended to aid their advance towards Burma.

The Japanese burned the bridge at the end of the war and so the present iron bridge isn’t a replica as such but commemorates the history and is now a pedestrian bridge and a favourite attraction of Thai tourists.

DSC01513

DSCN3231

DSC01515 (1)

DSCN3237

The two and a half hour drive back to Chiang Mai was uneventful but unfortunately took over four hours when we found ourselves in horrendous traffic jams on the outskirts of Chiang.

Joy eventually dropped us off some time after 5pm. We were knackered and hungry. Refreshed with a quick shower we walked down to Nimmenhaemin for some street food and a few beers at the Kamrai bottle shop and then returned to the flat for an early night. Tomorrow morning we would continue our travels with Joy and Goy to the Golden triangle in the far north east of Thailand.

Thailand – Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, Chiang Mai

 

This temple is 15 km from the city of  Chiang Mai and takes the name of the mountain,
Doi Suthep, on which it stands. It is a sacred site to many Thai people .

The temple is said to have been founded in 1386 but has been extended and extended and  is a substantial collection of buildings. It is an important site for pilgrims and tourists alike and receives huge numbers of visitors each year. Inevitably it is quite a tourist trap with cafes , restaurants and shops galore selling mementos but nevertheless the extravagantly ornate buildings and statues  makes this quite an amazing place and well worth a visit even though there are 300 steps to climb (unless you want to take the lift) and an entrance fee to pay when you get to the top – payable only by foreigners – the only temple we can recall having to pay to enter.

This place has been given its own post simply because of the numbers of photos.

 

Arriving at Doi Suthep - we hired a songthaew for the day so that the driver would wait for us
Arriving at Doi Suthep – we hired a songthaew for the day so that the driver would wait for us

DSC01085

DSC01129

DSC01088

DSC01096

DSC01092

DSC01098

DSC01100

DSC01103

DSC01101

DSCN2734

 

DSC01113

DSCN2739

DSC01131

DSC01132

DSC01140